Over at NRO, David French writes a powerful piece about the moral and historic absurdity of identity politics in American life.
I can’t recall the first time I heard the phrase “white male” hissed as if it were some form of particularly vile insult. I know it happened in law school, where it was used as a short-hand way of saying that I should be silent, that my views were not welcome. Over time, I learned that, to a certain set of people, there was something positively wrong with being white. “We” were the great privileged oppressors of history. And “we” were the great privileged oppressors of the present.
Read the whole thing. If you think French is wrong about the pervasiveness of this vacuous point of view, I take you all the way back to yesterday.
When Donald Trump released his cut-and-paste list of originalist judicial candidates for the Supreme Court, there were about a hundred potentially informative ways to dive in. The media could talk about how difficult it will be for skeptical movement conservatives to ever trust a GOP candidate who has so often broken his word, changed positions and been unmoored from principle. They could offer readers some insight into the more interesting or counterintuitive positions of the contenders, or offer some notable cases these judges have adjudicated. Since most of them have, one imagines, put in decades of work to attain their positions surely there are interesting biographical details that go beyond their race. And some did.
But as you’ve probably noticed, the first instinct of many in the media is to take a headcount on the race, gender and sex of those involved and crunch the numbers first. This is how contemporary America determines if things are fair or decent or racist or evil. Because if we can’t judge people by the color of their skin or their sex—or who they’re having sex with—then how exactly can we judge them?
ALL of Trump’s SCOTUS picks are white https://t.co/7EQWmHV3m2 pic.twitter.com/Plxmlfg2UG
— Justin Miller (@justinjm1) May 18, 2016
The Left gave us the obvious headlines like: “Your Ultimate Guide To The 11 White People Donald Trump Will Consider For The Supreme Court” and “All 11 of Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominees are white” and so on. At FiveThirtyEight, they did their duty before offering some characteristically interesting takes: “Trump’s Court Picks Are Mostly White Men, But They Are Still Unconventional”—as if it needs to be pointed out that “white” and “interesting” can coexist.
The Daily Beast’s first story out of the gate was: “Trump Reveals All-White List of Potential SCOTUS Nominees.” Not, “Trump Reveals Highly Impressive List of Potential Conservative SCOTUS Nominees” or “Trump Reveals Highly Controversial List of Potential SCOTUS Nominees” or “Trump Offers Conservatives The Bunch of Crazy Right Wingers They Want As Potential SCOTUS Nominees.” It’s just a bunch of white people, which tells liberals all they need to know about the judges, and the candidate who picked them, and the Republican Party that enabled the candidate—and probably America itself. Judging from the reaction on social media, I’m sure this will become a major part of the story.
I hate white supremacy most when I see it in the mirror.
— Science Mike (@mikemchargue) May 13, 2016
None of this an excuse of alt-Right’s bigoted nonsense or Trump’s hateful comments. It’s thing to call out racists and misogynists. It’s another to peddle identity politics on every front all the time.
On Wednesday entertainment reports were discussing a study that delves into how many words women say in movies compared to how many words men say. There is real-life study titled “Inclusion or Invisibility? Comprehensive Annenberg Report on Diversity in Entertainment,” that figured out that a little over one-third of “speaking characters” in movies were female though women represent over half the population in America. How dare Hollywood not divvy up the words in perfectly coordinated sexual and racial percentages?
OK, let’s do this Americans. Has anyone calculated whether 5.6 percent of the total speaking roles in movies are given to Asian Americans? Actually make that 2.3 percent Asian American women and the same for men. And four percent of those roles must be offered to gay Asian Americans. And don’t forget that .02 percent of Americans are transgendered Asian Americans. Where are their roles?
On Wednesday, entertainment reporters were also discussing if there is an appropriate percentages of gay characters on sitcom television. (Really, what group of Americans has struggling more to break into showbiz than the gay community?) As my colleague Sean Davis points out, though, there is no such hand wringing over Evangelical or Catholic or politically conservative characters—things that go beyond the superficiality of skin tone or gender choices.
But Sean’s just stubbornly clinging to ideas of the past.
CBS, which nixed a pilot for being “too female,” announces a fall sked w/ 6 new shows, zero female leads. https://t.co/w75j9ZsLyR
— Mark Harris (@MarkHarrisNYC) May 18, 2016
Wednesday also brought another round of debate over the Ghostbusters reboot trailer—a movie already instilled with the full absurdity of gender identity politics. You can see it playing out. Many liberals feel compelled to make sure everyone likes the reboot because women have taken starring roles in it. Now, if male reviewers happen to hate the movie, it probably won’t be due to misogyny. (Hey, has anyone conducted a study quantifying how often men give films starring women bad reviews? We need this.) It is far more likely due to the fact that Bill Murray is, by my rough estimate, approximately 200,000 times funnier than Melissa McCarthy. Reviewers probably won’t like the movie for the same reason they didn’t like remakes of “The Producers” or “The In-laws” or “The Out of Towners.” It is far more likely, considering the societal pressures of this environment, that writers will feel somewhat compelled to praise the movie, lest they intimate that women can’t be as funny as men. But rest assured, America will be thrust into another idiotic debate about identity.
Because this is what we do now.